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Pets ‘may reduce childhood allergies and obesity’
Babies from families with pets were found to have higher levels of two microbes.
Study finds higher levels of two microbes in babies exposed to pets

Early exposure to pets could make children less prone to allergies and obesity, scientists have said as a new study revealed babies from families with pets have higher levels of two important microbes.

A team from the University of Alberta tested faecal samples from infants, finding exposure to pets during pregnancy or the first three months after birth increases the abundance of two bacteria - Ruminococcus and Oscillospira - that are linked with reduced childhood allergies and obesity, respectively.

Commenting on the latest findings, which are published in Microbiome, lead researcher Anita Kozyrskyj said: “The abundance of these two bacteria were increased twofold when there was a pet in the house”.

Researchers also found that the immunity-boosting exchange occurred even in three scenarios known for reducing immunity - C-section, antibiotics during birth and lack of breast feeding.

Furthermore, their research suggests the presence of pets in the house lowered the risk of vaginal GBS (group B strep), which causes pneumonia in newborns, being transmitted during birth.

The work builds on two decades of research showing children who grow up with dogs have lower rates of asthma. The theory is that early exposure to dirt and bacteria, for example in a dog’s fur or on paws, can build early immunity.

Kozyrskyj said it is too early to say how the latest findings will lead, but it is “not that far-fetched” that a supplement of these microbiomes could be created.

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Working animals abroad to benefit from charity tea party

News Story 1
 Dog owners are being urged to put their baking skills to good use to raise funds for sick and injured animals working abroad.

The SPANA World Tea Party takes place on Saturday 8 July. As well as the exclusive dog-friendly ‘Pupcakes’, SPANA’s fundraising pack also includes recipe ideas and tips for humans to host their own traditional British afternoon tea party.

Money raised from the event will provide free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries.  

News Shorts
Bojan Zorko honoured for contribution to veterinary medicine in Slovenia

Professor Bojan Zorko has been chosen for WSAVA’s Meritorious Service Award, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of veterinary medicine in Slovenia.

Prof Zorko is a specialist in canine and feline medicine, a professor of veterinary radiology at the University of Ljubljana and a director of the International Veterinary Radiology Association for Central and Eastern Europe. WSAVA president Walt Ingwersen praised his long-standing service to voluntary organisations and his commitment to teaching and research.